One of our faithful readers, Peter Nicastro, wanted an underhammer target rifle but faced the financial challenge to fill the need. However, his resourcefulness and craftsmanship has resulted in a successful transformation that resulted in a very racy underhammer that I’m sure you will find interesting as well as inspiring.
Understand that Mr. Nicastro began this endeavor at the age of 72, which is testament to the fact that a vision empowered by pure determination knows no limitations, as Mr. Nicastro’s photos and comments explain.
By Peter Nicastro
I guess the best place to start is at the beginning…
At age 72 I got to thinking about taking up an activity I would enjoy. The idea of taking up target shooting came to mind and after some thought I said to myself, “Hey, why not?” At the time I no longer owned any firearms.
My muzzleloading interest all began back in the early sixties (1960’s). I had a percussion single shot pistol and a Bob Tingle Hawken rifle. Dixie Gunworks was then the place where you could get what you needed.
Well, at 72 it was my thought that I would get back into shooting muzzleloaders. So the hunt began for my first purchase. I picked up a copy of the Blue Book of Modern Blackpowder Firearms (available from www.dixiegunworks.com ) and there it was on the front cover – the Feinwerkbau Billinghurst Underhammer Pistol.
I had to have it.
The pistol was of the highest quality and has given me many 5-shot groups that would fit under a quarter at 25 yards from a benchrest. After about a year of working with the pistol I decided that I had to have a rifle of the same quality, but everything of the same quality was way out of my price range.
That's when the idea hit me to make a rifle/pistol combo with the Feinwerkbau pistol action.
Have you ever heard the expression, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."?
The first thing I had to do was to make a model of the stock. I chose to make it out of balsa wood that had been soaked in Future Floor Wax, which made the wood much harder. When it was finished drying, I sent it off to Pecatonica River Long Rifle Supply, www.longrifles-pr.com, to be carved from a nice blank of curly maple. They also supplied a matching forearm blank. I added all the burl accents.
I had to make the rifle breechplug longer to go deeper into the barrel, so I also had to make an extended hammer. This also required that I change the pin location in the hammer to get more striking force in the hammer. I also exchanged the #10 nipple that came with the pistol for a #11 nipple.
I order a 30” X 1” .36 caliber Match Grade barrel from Rice Barrels, www.ricebarrels.com, and added the Schoyen palm rest from CPA, www.singleshotrifles.com, for offhand shooting.
The scope that is mounted on the rifle for now is just for working up the best loads. I will shoot the rifle competitively with metallic sights.
Our thanks to Mr. Nicastro for sharing his rifle with us. I do hope that more of you readers will share your underhammer rifles and experiences with us. The rifles don’t have to be as exotic as Mr. Nicastro’s for our readers to have interest. If they work for you, tell us about it. If they don't work for you, tell us about it. That’s what this blog is all about – underhammer shooters sharing with other underhammer shooters.